How to Make a Gambeson Also known as: Aketon, Arming Coat, Bambikion, Haqueton, Jack or Jupon By Inga the Unfettered Lost Vikings Household MKA: Michelle Height [email protected] Special thanks to: Olaf the Stout Rasmussen: for asking me to make my first gambeson and taking the time to explain what one was and what it was for. Countess Dierdriana of the Misty Isles MKA: Maureen Whitaker Clifton : for her booklet ‘Fantastic Gambazons’ that got me started on my way. The Lost Vikings : for loving my work so much and for putting it to such good use Dexter of the Silver Talons : for all the brainstorming and for questioning everything My mum : for all the skills that make it possible @ 2001 Inga the Unfettered MKA: Michelle Height All Rights Reserved Design options There are several factors to consider when choosing the design and style of the gambeson. - What type of fighter will wear this gambeson? Lights must have long sleeves, heavies wear a broad assortment of armor that must be factored in to the fit. I suggest doing a few sketches to help determine what will best serve the wearer’s needs. - What is the wearer’s persona? This will affect color choice, quilting design and embellishment. The pattern I present here does not derive exclusively from any one given period and authenticity has been sacrificed for functionality to some degree. This basic shape can easily be modified to include a collar, dags and other such period modifications. Keep in mind that this garment is, above all, intended to protect the wearer - do not let the appearance of the gambeson impede the functionality of the garment – just a word of caution. - Is this for a new fighter or established fighter? A new fighter may wish to construct a quick version of the gambeson to save time & cost. An established fighter generally has a clear idea of what works for them and will likely want to go with the full finish gambeson for it’s durability. Quick version – ideal for the new fighter – can only be made out of moving blanket The primary difference is that the moving blanket is not encased in anything to increase it’s lifespan. Edges of the moving blanket are encased in store bought bias tape or serged to seal in the padding. Material Cost: $20 to $30 Construction time: 2 to 3 evenings Lifespan: up to one year with weekly washings High Finish – major investment of time & money – best for those that are committed to fighting. Material Cost: up to $200 Construction time: 30 to 40 hours Lifespan: seemingly indefinite if cared for properly (all those I’ve made are still in use) 4 to 6 years under regular levels of abuse is a conservative estimate (Note: edging and edging where armor rubs will show wear first i.e.: area around neckline where gorget rubs) Styles Tabard – works best with external armor or for those brave souls that wear absolute bare minimum armor – no sleeves and nominal coverage on sides (ribs) an issue to be considered – this is such a simple design that I do not cover it specifically in the following construction instructions. Simply cover batting/moving blanket according to construction instructions and edge with bias tape as per edging instructions. Attach closures (ties, grommets & lacing etc..) under arms at waist. Loose/Tunic style - looser fit works well with either internal or external armor - less fitting required - excess fabric may cause bunching - excellent for light fighting - can be done with open or closed armholes & with or without side slits - shown here with short sleeve and long sleeve Fitted style - designed for use with close fitting internal armor - highly fitted - no excess of fabric - armholes are open and sides are slit to provide maximum range of motion - shown here with short sleeve and long sleeve Materials List Padding Interior - Moving blanket - MUST be of all natural materials – WARNING some companies sell blankets that have synthetic shells - Cotton or Polyester batting Exterior - Cotton/ Polyester blend fabric is recommended - this gives you the breathability of cotton with the pill resistance and colorfastness of polyester - Heavy Suiting or Bull Denim are excellent choices for long term wear (Note: for those new to sewing, the staff at the fabric stores can help you find these types of fabric) - IMPORTANT!!!!! The weave of the fabric you select must be tight – think of how closely woven denim is. An open weave fabric will snag, pill, tear and show wear much more readily Bonding Material - Stichwitchery can be used but it does add weight to the finished product and is quite costly - Bargain Fabric outlets regularly carry a no-name version of Stichwitchery that is much lighter – it looks like spider web – and is as good a fusing material at about half the cost of Stichwitchery Thread – Poly/cotton blend Sewing Machine Needles - Batting - Regular heavy duty needles - Moving Blanket - Leather needles are best for punching through the bulk of the moving blanket Shopping list for above materials (based on constructing a gambeson for your average SCA male heavy fighter 180 –200 lbs) - 1 NEW moving blanket OR 3 m Polyester or Cotton batting - 3 m @ 60 inch width of each the exterior fabric and the lining - 2 m @ 60 inch width for bias tape to seal all edges and seams for fitted style OR 1 m @ 60 inch width for bias tape to seal all edges for looser tunic style (see section on design) - 2 spools of thread in exterior color for quilting and top stitching - 2 spools of thread in bias tape color - 1 package of sewing machine needles (see above for type) - 12 m of Stichwitchery @ 20 inch width OR 4 m of discount fusing (it is generally in greater than 60 inch widths – adjust this amount based on what widths you are able to purchase it in) - Closures (this is all matter of choice) - 2 inch width adhesive backed Velcro (1 m is usually enough) - Fabric tie closures made of bias tape fabric - Leather toggles or buckles - Grommets & leather or synthetic lacing Misc. Supplies: - TONS of good pins – quilting pins work best - Tailors chalk - Measuring tape - Yard stick - Good scissors - Marking pen – felt marker - Paper for pattern – newsprint works well - Iron Places to Buy Materials in Veraquilon Moving Blankets: Harlou Moving Supplies 9408 – 62 Avenue 780.438.9188 Batting and Fusing: Marshall Discount Fabrics 10015 – 63 Avenue 780.436.3739 All other materials: Fanny’s Fabrics is my favorite - excellent selection of suiting - poly/cotton is regularly on sale - great selection of clearance materials Places to Buy Materials in Montengarde Moving Blankets: Shipper’s Supply Inc. Bay #8, 3401 – 19 Street NE 403.291.0450 or 4848 – 52 Street SE 403.204.3699 All other materials: as above, Fanny’s Fabrics is my favorite - excellent selection of suiting - poly/cotton is regularly on sale - great selection of clearance materials Measurements 1. Neck 2. Neck to shoulder 3. Shoulder to sleeve end 4. Armpit to sleeve end 5. Bicep flexed 6. Elbow 7. Forearm flexed 8. Wrist 9. Chest expanded 10. Shoulder to shoulder across rounded back 11. Shoulder to shoulder across expanded chest 12. Base of back of neck to bottom edge 13. Base of throat to bottom edge 14. Waist 15. Hip 16. Desired overlap (approx. from center line to nipple) 17. Desired slit 18. Armpit to bottom edge Drafting the Pattern For fitted Back Panel Front panel – remember that this is an overlap closure cut 2 pieces one facing left & one facing right. Note centerline – the amount of overlap can be modified to suit personal taste. Short Sleeve Long sleeve For Loose/Tunic style Use a tunic pattern as a guide for the fit – I use McCall 2665 Men’s tunic for the basic shape but taper the sleeves from the pattern’s design and split the front on the center line adding enough for an overlap to the resulting front half. Construction Process - - - Wash all fabric including the moving blanket/batting in HOT water and dry thoroughly. WASHING WARNINGS: Moving blankets are huge and heavy – don’t risk your washing machine – go to a laundromat. Batting is hard to wash – I suggest soaking it in hot water in your tub, squeezing out the excess, spin in the washer and lay out or tumble on gentle to dry. Press all fabric and batting/moving blanket – this will make it easier to work with and to fuse together Take all indicated measurements and draft a rough pattern (see Drafting the pattern) Pin together and fit against wearer – do not fit too closely to the body at this point – it can always be trimmed to fit. Leave space to accommodate armor and the broad arm movements that are necessary to most styles of fighting. The garment should not restrict movement in any way. Lay out pattern on batting or moving blanket – IMPORTANT! Quilting channels must run across the piece – including on the sleeves if not, the loose cotton fill will shift down the garment Mark out the pattern with marker and then cut out allowing a minimum of 1 inch all round Gently pin together at shoulders and test the fit on the wearer – trim any obvious excess – always trim in small increments – do not over trim or the garment will be too tight. Pin together sleeves and test width keeping in mind armor and needed range of movement and as small measure of shrinkage due to quilting Cut exterior and lining to the dimensions of the batting/moving blanket pieces Pin exterior, batting/moving blanket, and lining together with right faces of fabric out. Make sure that the right and left sides of the front of the garment and the left and right sleeve are assembled correctly – you do not want to begin fusing till this is clear – you cannot easily pull the layers apart once fused Cut fusing – Do not throw away any scraps! You can piece fusing. The overlap will not show. Fuse the exterior and lining to the blatting/moving blanket. Set your iron just past perm-press and use full steam. Start by fusing the lining to one side then the exterior. ALWAYS work from the center of the piece out. Work slowly and methodically to be sure that the entire surface is bonding. Do not slide the iron – this will cause wrinkles. Lift and reposition the iron as you work. Heat each spot for about 30 seconds and apply pressure – this helps full bond the materials. Allow the piece to cool before flipping it over to bond other side. Once done each piece, allow it to cool FLAT. Quilt pieces if desired. Quilting significantly increases the life of the gambeson as it contains the batting/padding and limits it’s migration within the gambeson. Using tailors chalk, mark out the desired pattern. Quilt ALL pieces before proceeding. FIT TO WEARER – this will be much easier at this point – do not overtrim Open edges of finished pieces and trim ¾ of an inch of batting/padding back from the edge. DO NOT CUT THE EXTERIOR OR LINING MATERIAL. (see diagram below for applicable edges) - Prepare Bias tape. Find the bias on your material by pulling on the diagonal and it will give. Place the yardstick on the bias and mark with tailor’s chalk. You will need 21/4 inch width strips for the bulk of the gambeson. Mark out a large number of strips and cut. Do not mark entire fabric, instead cut more strips later if needed. If you use the open armpit design, you will also need 4, 8 – 10 inch long, 3 inch wide strips. At this point you should have five fused and quilted gambeson pieces and a bunch of strips of home made bias tape. Now assemble in the following order. See following pages for complete instructions on the sealing and edging process. - Stitch shoulder front (left and right) to shoulder back. - Seal shoulder seam with bias tape if using fitted style - Edge front overlap outside edge - Edge entire neckline with on strip of bias tape - Baste side seams - FIT TO WEARER – at this point take a moment to make sure the armholes are comfortable and that the side slits are deep enough (if applicable) have the wearer do a deep lunge. If the slit is high enough, the gambeson will allow the full movement and hinge at about the hip bone. - Stitch side seams - Edge side slit if applicable - Edge bottom edges of front and back - Seal side seams if fitted style - Edge armhole if fitted style - Baste stitch sleeves together - FIT TO WEARER – the sleeve should not be tight at any point – remember to keep armor and needed range of movement in mind. At this point, if doing long sleeves, determine if you wish to cut out a circle of fabric at the inside of the elbow. I have never found this necessary but many fighters do appear to use this approach. If you choose this approach, I would recommend adding a gusset of the exterior material to the outside of the garment to conceal the hole. - Sew sleeves together - Seal sleeve seam - FIT TO WEARER – at this point take a moment to make sure the set of the sleeves is comfortable. Pin sleeve to shoulder and have wearer run slowly through full range of movement. With the fitted style, this part of the fitting process is crucial as you do not want to have any bunching or biting in the armpit area. Work slowly and trim till fit is right. - Edge shoulder edge if using fitted style - Join sleeve to body of gambeson. There are several different methods for attaching the sleeve Stitched method leaving armpit open – for fitted style - Line up sleeve seam and side seam of gambeson find point where sleeve and shoulder seam meet - Pin in place up to four inches on either side shoulder seam - Zigzag across join of sleeve and shoulder to tack in place - FIT TO WEARER - Finish by sealing seam - Start with inside - Using 3inch width bias tape, prep tape by folding in edges approximately a ½ inch then fold in ends to needed length – length of run of zigzag join - Pin and stitch. Repeat with outside seam Grommeting method – best with fitted style - Line up sleeve seam and side seam of gambeson find point where sleeve and shoulder seam meet - Pin in place up to four inches on either side shoulder seam - Mark points for grommets on body and sleeve - Unpin and set grommets - I would recommend preparing a small flap to stitch in place beneath the grommets to protect the wearer from bites from impact with gommets - Lace in place with leather or synthetic lace Stitched method with sealed armpit – best with loose style - Sew into place as you would a tunic sleeve - IMPORTANT: If the sealing techniques was not used, the edges at the shoulders, side seams and armholes will need to be serged or sealed with store bought bias tape to minimize wear. - Reinforce stress points Done by stitching a box with crossing x at stress points (see diagram) Stitch this pattern minimum 3 times. Insert reinforcing in the following places - Top of slit - Peak of shoulder/sleeve join - Edge of armhole opening - Attach closures of choice - Wash at least once before wearing in war/tournament to break in gambeson Be sure to keep excess fabric. Set it aside for future repairs, just on case. - ENJOY!!!!!!!! Sealing Seams This process entirely encases the seam so as to prevent tearing and to increase the lifespan of the seams. Prep the seam once sewn by pressing the seam allowance away from the seam. Always begin sealing the seam from the inside. 1. Take an appropriate length of 2 ¼ inch bias tape and lay it right side down against the gambeson with the edge of the bias tape butted up against the seam. Stitch into place approximately 5/8 of an inch away from seam. 2. Flip bias tape across seam exposing right side of fabric. Stitch along folded edge. 3. Turn under bias tape edge approximately 5/8 of an inch and pin. Stitch into place. 4. Repeat on outside edge of seam. Edging This process completely encases the edge of the batting or moving blanket to prevent leakage of padding and to increase the lifespan of the exposed edges. This is particularly important on high wear edges such as the neck and armhole. Prep edge by trimming away any loose threads or padding. Always begin sealing the seam from the inside. 1. Take an appropriate length of 2 ¼ inch bias tape and lay it right side down against the gambeson with the edge of the bias tape butted up against the edge. Stitch into place approximately 5/8 of an inch away from seam. 2. Flip bias tape across edge exposing right side of fabric. 3. Flip over gambeson so you are now working from the outside of the gambeson. 4. Turn under bias tape edge approximately 5/8 of an inch and pin. Careful and frequent pinning is the key to an attractively finished edge. You cannot over pin! This will be particularly tricky around the neckline – work slowly. Use a measuring tape occasionally to ensure your edging will be even. Stitch into place. Edging Corners When coming to a corner (bottom of gambeson or at overlap edge on the front left and right piece) the process is a bit more complex. The intention is to make sure that this high wear area is completely sealed 1. Complete step 1, 2 & 3 as above. 2. Take excess bias tape projecting past the edge of the gambeson and fold it in towards the corner. 3. Fold in edge of bias tape enough to allow a pleasing width of edging when turned up to body of gambeson. 4. Turn up edge tight against raw edge of gambeson and pin into place. Be sure that the resulting corner has no exposed raw fabric edges or padding. Use a measuring tape occasionally to ensure your edging will be even. Stitch into place. 5. Stitch the corner into place and top stitch three times. Sewing terms defined: Baste - A method of temporarily joining fabric using large stitches. Used to hold a sewing project in place and removed when the permanent sewing is done. Batting - Fiberfill, cotton, wool, or other such padding material that is flattened into a dense layer. Can be purchased in precut lengths or by the yard. Bias - Runs diagonally to the straight grain of the fabric. This is the stretchiest part on the fabric. Bias Tape - Strips of fabric which are cut from the bias of the fabric, often turned under and pressed. Used for bindings, facings or edging. The bias cut allows the strip of fabric to smoothly follow curves. Bonding Material – See Fusing. Fusing (bonding material, webbing, popular brand name Stichwitchery) Has the characteristic of being able to be ironed on, usually permanently, with or without reinforcement by stitching, due to a heat-activated "glue" on one or both sides. Double-sided version used to “glue” two surfaces to each other. Grommet - A small metal or plastic ring used to reinforce, strengthen or protect an opening. Gusset - A piece of fabric inserted to strengthen and/or enlarge an area of garment. Quilt - Two layers of fabric with a layer of batting, cotton, wool, feathers, or down in between, all stitched firmly together, usually in a decorative crisscross design. Serge - A stitch type generated by a serger that seals the seam. Serger - A type of sewing machine that stitches the seam, encases the seam with thread, and cuts off excess fabric at the same time. These are used for construction of garments with knit fabrics mostly, or to finish seams of any fabric. Stichwitchery - See Fusing. Tack - A temporary stitch to hold pieces together, usually removed after final stitching. Tacking is also known as a term for starting off a seam with a few stitches back and forth for stabilizing.
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